How to Meal Prep for Families With Toddlers

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If you’re tired of always trying to figure out what to eat for your family (especially when you have little ones), this article will walk you through how to meal prep for families with toddlers.  

image shows meal prep meals

One of the hardest parts about being a working mom or stay-at-home mom is figuring out what’s for dinner. Now, the idea of meal prepping can feel overwhelming at first. You’re literally planning your meals ahead of time. Sometimes weeks in advance!  

However, meal prepping can help you save time, money, and some sanity when it comes to deciding what your family should eat. Plus, you can get your toddlers involved in the action so they can have fun exploring new foods and feeling proud of the meals they help make.

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How to Meal Prep for Families With Toddlers

The good news: There are no hard rules to follow when it comes to meal prepping with toddlers. You can prep as many or as few meals as you wish. You can keep them simple or fancy.  

Since there are no “rules”, I’m going to share my favorite tips to help meal prep for families with toddlers to make it a little less overwhelming.

Plan Out Your Meals

Planning out your meals will involve you taking a good look at your calendar to see what you have planned for the following days. Are there any school events going on? Doctor appointments for anyone?  

Once you have an idea of what your schedule looks like, you can then figure out which meals will fit in best with your schedule. If you like a little more consistency with meal planning, try to dedicate certain days to certain meals.

For example, you can do Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday, etc. This gives you some consistency throughout the week to work with so you always know whats on the menu.

Here’s a sample monthly meal plan for our family:

Family Meal Planning On A Budget – Sample Monthly Budget Meal Plan – Mimosas & Motherhood

This is a great example of how your monthly meal plan should look, but you can use whatever kind of sheet that works for you! I love separate planner sheets like this I can hang on my fridge, but you can also easily use your family calendar or planner too.

Want a blank version of the printable calendar I shared above so you can easily create your own? Just enter your details and I’ll send this your way!

Develop a “GO-TO” Ingredient List

Another helpful tip I’ve learned from meal prepping with my toddlers is that it really helps to have a “go-to” ingredient list. These would be ingredients that are often used between your meals.  

For example, we always keep chicken on hand because I know at least 2 to 3 meals of the week we eat will almost always use some kind of chicken. The same goes for rice, vegetables, olive oil, Kodiak cake mix, etc. What items can you foresee being on your go-to ingredient list?

Need help making sure you have the right pantry staples on hand? Be sure to also check out my Free Printable Pantry Staples Checklist.

image shows meal prepped food

Have a System in Place

Here is where creating a system or routine while meal prepping will come in helpful. You don’t always have to prepare and cook your meals for the week, instead, maybe your system is that you cut and separate out all of the ingredients so that you can easily cook your meals fresh the day of.  

Your system could also be that you cook all the proteins in advance and whip up the side dishes the day of. Play around with ways that will make your days easier. Then you can find what works for you and your family to get into a solid meal prepping routine.

Our family swears by meal planning and meal prep to save money on our grocery bill and lessen the headache of trying to figure out meals every day. It’s been a HUGE game changer for us!

For a more in-depth look at this process, be sure to also check out How to Budget Meal Plan for Families {Free Printable}.

Use a Food Scale

If you really want to nail down your recipes each week, a food scale like this one can be a great tool to help! You can weigh out your ingredients to make prepping a piece of cake. Plus, most toddlers love to help add items onto the scale and watch the numbers flicker around.  

Just remember to always tare the scale down to 0 and add your bowl so that it doesn’t weigh the bowl or storage container by mistake.

Limit Seasonings for Toddlers

It’s great to expose your toddler to a variety of seasonings and flavors. However, some premade seasonings are loaded with excess sodium and sugar. Those are the ones you’ll want to watch out for.  

For reference, children 1 to 3 years of age shouldn’t exceed 2 grams of salt per day. Children 4 to 6 years of age shouldn’t exceed 3 grams of salt per day. Here are some great low sodium seasoning blends.

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Use Good Quality Cooking Tools

I cannot tell you what having the right tools in the kitchen can do to speed up meal prep. I remember long before when I use to meal prep I’d spend forever just trying to chop our veggies with a dull knife. It took FOREVER!  

Don’t do that. Get yourself some decent cooking tools (I love these ceramic knives!), Tupperware (like these handy meal prep containers), preparation gear, and more to make your meal prep easier.

image shows children helping prepare food

Keep It Simple

Lastly, keep it simple! If you’re just starting out with meal prepping (which you likely are because you’re reading this how to meal prep article), you don’t need to overwhelm yourself with crazy recipes. Especially when it comes to making toddler-friendly foods, keep your meal selection simple.

Have a protein, carb, healthy fats, and vegetable or fruit source picked out. Using this mindset will make it easier to prepare meals. Here are some very simple examples of meals that can be changed up in many ways:  

  • Chicken, Rice, Vegetables (chicken can be baked or shredded and served with a variety of seasonings or flavors)
  • Meatballs (these can have veggies chopped up and added into them or served alongside some savory sides)
  • Salads (can literally make a salad in so many different ways with a variety of flavors)

Need some more help when it comes to recipes? Here are a few of my family’s favorite toddler-friendly recipes that are also great for meal prepping!

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

Easy Instant Pot Whole Chicken

How to Cook a Turkey in a Crockpot

Easy Meals Using Leftover Rotisserie Chicken

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Balls

Now that you have our best tips on how to meal prep for families with toddlers, which meals will you be prepping for next week?

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One Comment

  1. Meal prep is a HUGE time saver! I try to use single ingredients and batch cook items with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. That way I can add sauces, herbs, and spices at meal time for veriety.

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